Houssein talks Walking Away, Vine and dream collaborations
Houssein, a young British pop artist and singer-songwriter, first caught the attention of his fans on YouTube and Vine prior to releasing his original songs. In an exclusive interview with United by Pop, Houssein opens up about musical influences, writing his own music and his fans.
How did you first get involved or interested in music?
I started when I was six. I did the school choir and stuff like that. The school told my mom that they thought I was good at music and that encouraged my mom to encourage me to want to do music. I got drum lessons and guitar lessons. I did some musical theater shows when I was a bit older and then eventually, I moved on to pop music.
You first got noticed and had major success on Vine! How was it to see that basically blow up?
I posted on Youtube from when I was eight and over 5 years, I had only gotten 1,000 subscribers. I then posted on Vine and that day I got over 100,000 views. I got 100,000 followers on there within two months. For me, I put in so much work for two years and thought nothing paid off, so when Vine happened, it was the most exciting thing ever.
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Your first song ‘5 Bucks’ blew up! Was that surreal to see people tweeting about it and talking about it in general?
It really was! I posted covers and things on social media, but the end goal was always to be able to do my own pop music. Having my own song out that people were posting covers to, making reactions to and talking about was really rewarding and exciting. I loved filming the music video as well because I’ve always watched music videos and had never made a music video [of my own] before. We had massive cameras and a crew. I found it so exciting. We filmed it in Brighton by the seaside and the video looked quite visually pleasing.
Did you have any musical influences growing up?
When I was about six or seven, the first artist/band I listened to was Queen because I had a DVD of their live show and I just watched it on repeat every day. The first band I properly fell in love with was Green Day. I was really inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong and the way he performed on stage. As I got older, my influences have been Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran and The 1975. People like that!
You recently released your latest single ‘Walking Away.’ What can you tell me about that track?
I wrote it in London with Dan Dare, Ryan Keen and Aiden Grimshaw. The song is about being in a relationship, but the guy in the song has just been a bit busy or preoccupied and this has caused the girlfriend to be upset. The song is from his perspective as he tries to figure it out and sort out the situation. Recording the song was so cool because Dan Dare and Ryan Keen are amazing artists. I loved working with them. It was a great environment to work in and that song is my favorite one I have released so far. I’m really happy with it!
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You have a collection of songs out already, but which song do you resonate with the most?
Musically, ‘Walking Away’ is the song I enjoy the most. Sonically, it’s where I want to go as an artist with the more stripped back feel. Lyrically, [I would say] probably, ‘Tokyo’ or ‘The Days’ as I had the most input writing those songs and I feel like they’re really relatable to me.
Your fans have fallen in love with your songs and constantly follow you on social media to see everything you’re up to. How has it been to have that support?
From a music perspective and being an artist, having a fanbase changes everything. I get so many more opportunities because of their support. For example, the BBC played one of my songs! All of my fans tweeted them loads and then they played my song again today. It genuinely helps my career. Also, when I get to meet fans, it’s just the coolest thing ever. I saw some of them at BBC. When there are all these people outside waiting for you, it’s just such a cool feeling. I’m very grateful!
If you could tell people who just discovered your music one thing about you as either an artist or person, what would you say?
As an artist, I’m still very new and not afraid to say that. I’m still trying to find exactly where I want to go with it all. Stay tuned and keep listening because I think that my style is going to be fine-tuned and I’m going to keep on releasing new songs. I feel like ‘Walking Away’ is way closer to where I want to be. That’s going to keep developing as I develop as an artist. As a person, I am very stereotypically British. I love drinking tea so much!
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For me, doing the music stuff [is something that] I don’t see as working. In my free time, I do still make music. Otherwise, I like looking around shops and looking around London. London is my favorite city that I’ve been to. I’m kind of biased I guess.
So far, what do you think has been the highlight of your career or one of your favorite memories?
Recently, I performed in an arena in England. That was pretty exciting to have such a big audience. I think just releasing the music and being an artist. Being self-sustaining as an artist! I’m not signed to a label, but every single song I released this year had a music video and additional content.
i’m currently working on so many new songs, super excited for you to hear them
— houssein (@CheekyHoussein) November 14, 2018
Going off of that, what are your future goals as an artist?
My biggest goal is probably to release an album. I’d say that’s a long-term goal. A headlining tour is something I would want to do hopefully in the next year. I think that would be so cool.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
I would love to collaborate with Charlie Puth! BTS too! I think they’re so cool. They incorporate like six different genres into one song. Also, Ed Sheeran. It would be the coolest thing to have a song written by Ed Sheeran.
Is there anything that fans may be able to look forward to in the near or distant future?
I’m working on a ton of new music. I don’t think there will be any new songs released this year. Before Christmas, I’m going to have new music made and I’ve got some touring and performing stuff lined up for the beginning of next year. For the start of 2019, there will be lots of new music and lots more performances.